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Saturday, 8 June 2013

Hating and loving Kings of Leon

Have you ever bought an album that on first playing you absolutely hated and then after subsequent listens you ended up loving?

Many years ago I had exactly this situation.  I was in a supermarket with some friends from work buying lunch.  I walked down the CD aisle and bought the new debut album from Kings of Leon, ‘Youth and Young Manhood’, based on a magazine recommendation.

I returned back to work and after eating lunch put it into my CD player and gave it a try.  My knee jerk reaction was not good.  I didn’t like the singers voice (I felt he was trying to rip off Tom Petty badly) and the music didn’t really impress or grab me.  I admit I felt it was too sloppy.  I immediately started telling everyone what a load of rubbish it was and to not bother buying it. 

I took it home and gave it another couple of listens that evening and over the next few days my feelings towards it softened and I started to appreciate individual songs and how the album sat together as a whole.  I even started to enjoy the singers voice which suited the music perfectly and where before I thought the music was sloppy, I realised it was delightfully loose and free.  By the end of the week I was back at work telling everyone I was wrong and they should give it a try.

I felt a bit sheepish and everyone laughed at my expense, but at least I could admit my mistake and recommend it.  Over the years I have listened to this album many times and I always enjoy it (I‘m playing it now as I write this).

The only other time I can think of that something similar has happened was when Red Hot Chili Peppers brought out ‘By the Way.  Up to this point I had been used to ‘Californication’ and ‘Blood Sugar Sex Magik’ and the sound to my ears was very different.  I could not gel with the album at all and lamented the fact that a great band had lost it’s spark and drive.

Again I gave the album a fair chance and a few more listens and after I warmed to it I could see it had some incredible songs on it.  Now I am slightly embarrassed to say it is probably my favourite album of theirs and I have listened to this album more than any others.

The lesson here is a) not to judge an album on first listen, b) don’t judge it based on past works and c) give any album a fair few listens before you make any judgement at all.  Thankfully I learnt this lesson reasonably quickly and even now when I get an album that doesn’t hit me first time I give it a fair chance before making up my mind. On the odd occasion I’ve even come back to an album many years later and realised how good it is.  I guess sometimes it is as much about the time in your own life that you first hear an album as the album itself.  And sometimes you were right and an album is just bad and you have to trust your own taste!


  1. You are soooo right, and I have had this happen many times as well. But when I grew up in the 50-60s, I would just buy vinyl 45 rpms and albums based on anything, as long as I could get my music fix one a week. I discovered Jimi Hendrix that way! Instant Love! But I also bought a 45 which I knew I hated as I had heard it on the radio a lot. It was just that it was the only thing I didn't own at the time. It was called Bread and Butter, and I still hate it. hahaha!!! jean

  2. well it could be worse. here it is:
    let me know what you think!

  3. Wise words indeed. I feel that the first time you Listen to an album says as much about how you're feeling at that moment than the album itself. I have experienced this with films and not recommended films that have been hyped but then softened as I realized it was just because of the place I was in at that moment. Subsequent listens of albums/views of films can change this so I really appreciate what you have said here.